Drive from Arras to the Newfoundland Memorial at Beaumont Hamel
Sitting at the 51st (highland) division memorial in the preserved battlefield at Beaumont Hamel.

The first thing that strikes you is the featurelessness of the surroundings. The countryside is farmland with small rolling hills nothing more than 15m up or down. The battle-line here were less than 100m apart. The small geographic feature of a hill or a ravine is enough to turn open country into a contested battle-line. The soil is also notable for being chalky. These natural bits of geography and geology must have been what made the Somme such a place of death.

Having studied various battles and wars, I find myself at a loss for what could be a strategic target in this area. One piece of it looks much like another. Not much different from driving 30 to 45 minutes outside of Edmonton or Saskatoon into the farmland. Even if you had a strategic target it would be unlikely that anyone in a line unit would have been able to see it from their position. Given the relative flatness of the territory anything beyond 20m (if you are in a trench) or 2 km (if you are standing on a rise) in unknown to you.

The fact that I can go to google earth, and know more about the this area in 3 minutes than the best planners on the Allied or German side did after fighting here for 3 years.

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